Just Zilch busier than last year

JONO GALUSZKA
Last updated 12:00 21/12/2012

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Demand for food parcels in Palmerston North is growing as Christmas approaches, with some providers saying it is even busier than last year.

December is traditionally the month when food banks' resources are stretched to the limit, as people struggle to meet the financial burden of the festive season.

Just Zilch is heading into its second Christmas since opening, and co-ordinator Rebecca Culver said there was a noticeable difference in the numbers of people coming in.

"We're definitely busier this year."

Anything above 100 people coming for food was high, but Monday and Tuesday this week had already seen more than 200 people through the doors each day, she said.

"The need has been significantly larger the last couple of weeks," Miss Culver said.

There was plenty of food around at the Fitzherbert Ave premises for people, including fresh vegetables from a community garden, but Miss Culver said it was "pretty sad" to see more and more people coming.

That was mainly due to increased need, she said.

There was plenty of food for people though, as the Ernest Adams factory dropped off about 10 pallets of food yesterday morning.

Just Zilch's premises will be closed from Christmas Day until January 7, but Miss Culver said people needing food should let staff know before it closes.

"We'll still be doing some mobile deliveries."

Salvation Army community ministries manager Kevin Richards said that demand at its food bank was picking up heading into Christmas.

While busier for the year, it was not out of line with trends, he said.

"For us, our client numbers and demand have been fairly consistent over the last four years.

"It's really increased since the global economic crisis started in 2008," Mr Richards said.

The food bank will be open on Christmas Eve, but will close from Christmas Day until January 4.

"It's been a busy year for the staff here, so they'll get a good rest before getting into it next year."

To help with pre-Christmas demand, all four Countdown supermarkets in the city had donated $500 worth of food each.

The supermarkets also held an in-store appeal for food, which would be donated to the Salvation Army.

The Salvation Army's annual Christmas community dinner was fully-booked, with about 170 people set to be cooked a traditional dinner on Christmas Day.

Mr Richards said the tables were booked, but those who wanted to help were more than welcome.

"There are a few jobs around people could help with," Mr Richards said. Those ranged from setting up the dining area on Christmas Eve to cooking and serving food on Christmas Day.

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"It is a way people can get involved in helping with a special one-off community event," Mr Richards said.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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